The Cowboys open the preseason tonight vs. the Denver Broncos at Cowboys Stadium and while the first-and-second team offenses will get the majority of the snaps in the first half, expect No. 3 quarterback Stephen McGee to see some time.
While McGee tries to do this he will be handcuff by a young and inexperienced offensive line and wide receiving corps. During training camp practices, McGee is running around under constant pressure unable to settle in and throw passes.
"It's a big preseason and a big opportunity to take control of our huddle and get the guys in the right places," McGee said. "We have a lot of young guys in the huddle that are not very sure of what they're doing. It's a big thing for me to take control of that."
In the offseason, McGee worked with several of his teammates by doing individual drills to stay sharp. He also participated in the "Tony Romo minicamp" which had the starting quarterback gather his teammates together for workouts during the lockout. At least 40 players participated in the minicamp.
"I think the disappointing part was we didn't go through organized team activities or [team-run] minicamps," McGee said. "You got to make the most of the situation. I was able to get a bunch of guys together and throw on air and work on some timing stuff."
There was always some doubts about McGee's abilities to play in the NFL until last season. He replaced an injured Kitna in the second half of the Arizona game in Week 16. He finished 11-for-17 for 111 yards with one sack and a touchdown. That touchdown, ending a eight-play 80-yard drive, was a 37-yard pass to Miles Austin that tied the game. But David Buehler's missed point-after-attempt and the defenses inability to stop the Cardinals, cost the Cowboys a victory.
With Kitna still out for the regular season finale, McGee earned his first career start at Philadelphia.
He played an uneven game completing 11-of-27 passes for 127 yards with one touchdown. Again, the touchdown came late in the game, this time a four-yarder to Jason Witten in the final minutes that eventually led to a 14-13 victory.
McGee can build on his final two weeks of the 2010 season and the work he's putting forth now into 2011, though his playing time will be muted with Romo and Kitna healthy.
"It’s the confidence of being out there, getting reps in a live situation, a live defense, being the starter for a week," McGee said. "Just the preparation that goes with that leading up to that game. That’s a lot of stuff that I’m going to lean on and grow on and hopefully it’ll pay huge dividends in the time to come."